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Submitted by: Dr. Dean Raffelock
As a nursing mom you need about 1200 milligrams of absorbable calcium per day. Calcium is a mineral that the body uses for many things: during pregnancy it helps form baby’s bones and teeth along with helping make breast milk, regulate blood pressure, heartbeat, water balance in the cells and muscle contractions. There are many foods in addition to vitamin supplements which will help you increase your calcium.
During pregnancy and lactation your body uses calcium that is stored in your bones to build your baby’s skeletal system and help form breast milk. So not only does baby need calcium, but you do too! If baby is taking stored calcium from your body during the nursing process, it makes sense to both take a calcium supplement and eat calcium rich foods. The bonuses for getting the right amount of calcium will mean stronger bones for you and helping you to avoid osteoporosis. There have been studies, which show that postpartum women getting sufficient calcium, more easily reclaim their pre-pregnancy weight.
Taking the right kind of calcium is crucial. The majority of prenatal vitamins are very poor quality and contain a form of calcium called calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is from stones and shells and very difficult for your body to digest and utilize. Blood tests that show how well calcium is absorbed into your cells reveal that a form of calcium called calcium citrate is the form of calcium best absorbed. 600 mg of calcium citrate is absorbed better than 1200 mg. of calcium carbonate. It is also very important that you take your calcium separately from iron because these two minerals compete with each other and can block the absorption of both. I recommend you take a morning high quality prenatal vitamin that contains iron and no calcium and that you take a calcium citrate (600 mg.) and magnesium citrate supplement (in a one to one ratio) at night. The nighttime calcium and magnesium supplement will often help you sleep better too.
The Recommended Daily Allowance
The Daily allowance for women is 1200 milligrams during pregnancy and lactation. Most prenatal vitamins do not contain enough, easy to absorb calcium. . Many doctors now tell new mothers to continue taking their prenatal vitamin for several months after pregnancy. So while nutritional support after pregnancy is a good idea, your prenatal, in most instances, will not supply you with sufficient calcium. Do not expect your prenatal vitamin to support your post pregnancy needs.
To take 1200 units of calcium as a supplement, you would need to take it more than once per day for the body to process and metabolize it. This creates a dilemma if you are taking a multiple vitamin that contains iron, as iron and calcium are best absorbed into the body separately.
We at Sound Formulas Recommend
That you get half of your calcium from vitamin supplementation and half from food sources. Take calcium at night away from your other nutrients and eat a diet in calcium rich foods. Here is a list of calcium rich foods:
Each food listed below is based upon milligrams per 100 grams of an edible portion = a 3 ounce serving size
Nutbutters such as almond, hazelnut and sunflowerhave around 60 to 70 milligrams of calcium.
Add vinegar or lemon juice when cooking dried beans or leafy greens. This aids in calcium availability and decreases gas formation.
Food Increased Calcium Intake
Barbados Molasses 245
Brewers Yeast 210
Corn Tortilla 200
Cooked Salmon 140
Cooked Soybeans 150
Water Cress 151
Goat Milk 129
Dried Figs 126
Sunflower Seeds 120
Whole Milk 118
Cottage Cheese 94
Cooked Lentils 25
*Each food listed above is based upon milligrams per 100 grams of an edible portion = or a 3 ounce serving size.
Research shows that the nutrient magnesium may play an important role in health. It may aid in regulating blood pressure, and may be of benefit for premenstrual disturbances and fatigue. And magnesium deficiencies may be far more common in the United States than doctors realize. The recommended daily intake of magnesium is around 300 milligrams per day. Add to that another 100 milligrams if you are pregnant or nursing.
Magnesium plays a role in the synthesis of proteins and this makes the mineral important for the health of tissues in the body. Like calcium, magnesium (about 60% of it) is found in the bones. The remaining 40% is found in muscle and soft tissue. In teeth, magnesium interacts with calcium to maintain tooth enamel. It may interact with calcium in other ways too as most calcium rich foods also supply a good source of magnesium. Like calcium, magnesium is a mineral that helps to promote relaxation.
Take calcium/magnesium vitamin supplements to promote restful sleep and provide you with nutrients your body needs and you need to be sure to eat calcium rich foods such as the ones listed.
Dr. Dean Raffelock is the author of A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health, Avery- 2003. He has been in practice since 1977 and has a holistic practice in Boulder, CO. He has earned four board certifications (clinical nutrition, acupuncture, applied kinesiology, chiropractic) in the holistic arts. He is the president of Sound Formulations a company that formulates and manufactures science-based nutritional products for numerous companies. He is also the Vice President of Research and Development for Sound Formulas (soundformulas.com) – a company dedicated to providing women health information and top tier nutritional supplements.
About the Author: Dr. Dean and Stephanie Raffelock
Sound Medicine, LLC. 3100 Arapahoe Avenue Suite 202 Boulder, CO 80303 Phone: 303-541-9019 FAX: 303-449-4497